The dreaded morning commute; a rite of passage for many who enter the depressingly strict, robotic routine of the working world. Every morning I gather my spirits off the floor and join the throng of morbidly morose, facially vacuous beings who keep the world's economic clock ticking.
I actually like my job, I am grateful for it, and I also don't mind early starts, but it's the bleak unforgiving sense of conformity and the fading light blocked by the taxman at the end of the tunnel that leaves many hearts heavy with disillusionment as they board the Blue Morning Express.
Morning misery can of course be alleviated as the day progresses and we look forward to the return journey, an altogether happier affair. However, I have noticed a new foe lurking behind station corners, one that is altogether more dangerous than the quiet sleepy sadness that descends upon us each morning: ANGER.
The streets were quiet and still when I walked the short distance from my home to the train station yesterday morning around 6:45. As I neared the entrance, I quickened my casual pace to a brisk stroll and had my train card in my hand, ready to swipe through the barriers. No sooner had I reached the ticket gate when a middle-aged man dressed smartly suddenly barged passed me and hurtled through the barriers. I protested, but the offender simply waved his arms aggressively in the air like I was so insignificant that he couldn't be bothered to apologise and muttered some derogatory terms under his breath. I noted that 'Bitch' was one of them.
I made my way onto the platform, carried along by the throng of people who had swarmed in through the different station entrances. I noted with vengeful pleasure that the gate offender had not managed to get on the train on the opposite platform and was banging his fists against the closed doors.
As the train pulled in, crowds started to form and I could feel the animalistic tension grow as the beeping sound indicated that the doors were about to open. I noticed a woman wedged up against the window; her fraught face determinedly fixed on the exit.
For just a second, everything was still, then a loud 'ping' resonated and the passengers spilled out of the train like a river of flowing bodies. The first few escaped unscathed, but as the stragglers emerged the waiting commuters couldn't take the anticipation anymore. The herd swarmed through the doors, diving for the empty seats and claiming as much space as they could. There was space down the aisle but no-one wanted to move up until the train guard started pleading through the window for people to make room. The beeping sound began again, and panic arose as more passengers tried to cram in. As the doors threatened to shut, one fool decided to throw himself through the closing gap, knocking into another passenger and causing a domino effect down the aisle. I was disgusted to see a heavily pregnant woman shoved to one side and uproar ensued. The Blue Morning Express had become The Red Rage Line.
No longer are we content to shuffle along, enveloped in our sullen solitude as we ponder the day ahead. The world has become a darker place and some of us have grown cold with greed, bitterness and pent up frustration.
Imprisoned in concrete chambers, our precious daylight hours are increasingly lost as we are consumed by the stresses and struggles of the daily grind. Anxiety and solicitude hang heavy on our shoulders, causing our bodies to droop and our stature to deteriorate. After many long hours chained to desks we wearily emerge into the darkness, seemingly unaware of our metamorphosis into wretched creatures of the night, only to repeat the process all over again as the sun rises.
We now don't have time to notice the beauty of just being as we rush and push our way through life. A few years ago, commuters in Washington DC completely ignored the master violinist Joshua Bell as he played six pieces of music in a busy metro station, a performance that usually costs a substantial fee when he plays at concert halls across the world. Obviously this just didn't fit into the routine of those who passed by him, and I have to admit that no matter how beautiful the music, I probably wouldn't have stopped myself if I was eager to get to work and definitely not if I was on my way home.
Rather more worrying is when commuters ignore a fellow passenger in trouble. In 2012 hundreds of people waiting to board an early morning tram in Greater Manchester failed to help a schoolboy who had collapsed and hit his head on the platform. Unbelievably, some even stepped over the unconscious teenager.
Have our hearts become so blackened by the stresses of life that we are now blind to the suffering of others? On the morning commute it seems that way. The greedy, razor-toothed CEO of the employment industry has clamped down on time-wasters and tipped the scales of the work-life balance so that we have very little time to just stop and stare. The need for financial security in a world where the divide between rich and poor is so great, has made some of us so desperate that showing any human consideration just isn't worth our time.
The selfish and insular actions of people on the morning commute has become a sign of how perilously close we are to the edge of madness and judging by what I witness every day on the tubes and trains, it won't be too long before we trip over the precipice completely.